Here at the HBC, we are big fans of food bloggers – hell, most of our team is made of foodies. In this article we caught up with Sofia, founder of Mealz, to unveil the secrets of how to optimise your recipes and Google.
Read more about Mealz and becoming a Mealz author here.
Sofia Fominova is an experienced technology entrepreneur, passionate about the food industry. As a Founder and CEO of Mealz, Sofia is building an open recipe publishing platform for health-conscious foodies to create, share and discover unique food-related content.
Sofia’s personal mission is to improve the well-being of humankind by enabling billions of people to make smarter food and nutrition choices.
I’ve been in the healthy food industry for the past seven years. My first venture was Laborganic – a juice shop – “one of the best cold-pressed juice bars in London”, according to the Financial Times. It was an incredible experience to hear stories from people about how food habits cure illnesses and transform lives. And then I wanted to take it to the global scale, instead of a single London based store. And that was the birth of Mealz.
Mealz is a digital platform for recipe marketing. We have a number of products that allow food businesses to grow through recipe marketing; but most importantly for this session – we run a consumer website with thousands of recipes, called Mealz, serving millions of impressions. It’s a platform that allows content creators to share and optimise recipes, cookbooks, and meal plans; and users – to consume the information with ease.
Running Mealz taught me a lot – like starting any business does, really
This is why today I want to share with you some of the knowledge and personal learnings about the recipe promotion online. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about recipe marketing, by working with hundreds of authors and publishing a few thousand recipes. Let’s start from the basics.
There are two components in recipe marketing: (1) quality & relevance of your content; and (2) how you distribute your content. Those are very interconnected: great content can be unnoticed without good distribution, and good distribution on its own will not generate enough virality without good content. So here are my few steps in creating a killer recipe:
Find a great niche and design unique recipes
Everyone is cooking avocado toasts and açai bowls. Those recipes are popular, simple, and look good in pictures — but there is a problem. There are thousands of them. From the best bloggers, newspapers and magazines. Assuming you are not a well-established publication, it will be hard for you to compete with 60 million avocado toast recipes in google search. However, if you add scrambled eggs and harissa to your avocado toast recipe, there are only 15 or so recipes to compete with.
Create interesting content
You’ve all heard about SEO, and how search engines prioritise pages with optimised content. I will not have enough time to give you a content SEO course. But, I will tell you that it’s essential to write at least something, at least a few hundreds of words related to the recipe that you are creating. There are many tools that automatically check content for you to show whether it’s SEO optimised, and recommend improvements. Depending on how and where you intend to publish your recipe, I recommend to do some research and find a good tool.
We eat with our eyes
From our experience at Mealz, people tend to stay on recipe pages with visually pleasing content for up to 60% longer than on recipes with average content quality. Taking pictures of food is harder than it sounds. Especially if you are trying to photograph meat. Invest in good lighting, even if you are taking pictures with an iPhone — it makes all the difference. And a food photography course might be useful to take it the whole new level. A small practical tip for you — consider the different formats.
We post lots of recipes on Instagram — including on Stories — and our job gets remarkably difficult when there is not enough margin on the picture to fit the whole dish into the Instagram layout.
Over the last couple of years, Google is trying to structure the internet. They introduced recipe cards in mobile search and step-by-step instructions in Desktop search. This is a golden opportunity for content creators. If you follow Google’s guidelines on how to structure your recipe content, you have a much higher chance of being served at the top of the Google Search.
Remember SEO? It also has a technical component besides the content quality. If you are publishing on your own website, it must meet a number of usability requirements to be considered as a good website by Google.
Make a buzz
This one is the most obvious tips, but the hardest to achieve. To make your recipe found by users (aka to optimise recipes), and to make that recipe page important in Google’s eyes, you need to get as many other good websites as possible to link to that recipe page. This will drive direct traffic and will count as a backlink — one of the most important factors that can get your recipe at the top of Google.
Try emailing other bloggers with ideas for recipe lists, such as “Best French recipes” — and get one of your creations included in that list.
You will be surprised how effective certain content distribution platforms are for recipe marketing. Pinterest, for example, is heaven for those who have a visually appealing content. Without much effort, you can organically generate millions of views, assuming you regularly keep adding content. It’s a great tool to optimise recipes on.
And of course, there is Mealz. We’ve built our platform specifically for that — to help bloggers, businesses, and chefs promote their recipes. There are many more factors to get your recipes seen by millions, and it took us thousands of hours to build a platform that addresses them all. We would welcome an opportunity to host your recipes too and promote your culinary creations to the world.
Finally, as you may have noticed, I focused most of my article on Google. You might ask about other channels, such as Instagram. Here’s my take on this: Instagram is sexy and a must-have, but the absolute majority of people are not used to searching for a recipe in your Instagram feed. It’s just not optimised for that.
Imagine you want to cook a chicken tikka masala. Would you rather go to Instagram and search for the hashtag, hoping to find a post with a proper recipe; or would you google it, and get a proper recipe page? Most people choose the latter, and this is why I believe learning how to work with Google is essential for implementing recipes.
There you have a few great and inspiring tips to optimise recipes online enabling you to reach more people and get the credit you deserve for your recipes.